David Lerman

9/11 victims bill heads to Trump‘s desk after clearing Senate
Final action on the measure came after months of emotional lobbying by ailing first responders and their families

The Senate cleared a measure Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

By the lopsided vote of 97-2, the Senate agreed to a House-passed bill that would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims filed by Oct. 1, 2090.

What we know so far about the budget, debt limit deal
CQ Budget podcast, Episode 119

Congress is racing to complete work on some big-ticket items before adjourning for the August recess. CQ Roll Call’s budget and appropriations reporter Kellie Mejdrich reports on a deal to extend the debt limit and set spending levels for two years. And finance reporter Doug Sword explains why the House plans to vote on a bill to shore up struggling pension plans.  Meanwhile, the Senate plans to give final approval of a permanent compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Show notes:

Senate schedules debate on 9/11 victims compensation bill
The bill sailed through the House last week, but Senate fiscal hawks worried about price tag

Senate leaders have agreed to take up a bill Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The bill sailed through the House last week on a 402-12 vote, but has faced resistance in the Senate from fiscal hawks worried about its price tag. The measure would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims.

Debt limit talks pick up pace and tax credit bonanza
CQ Budget podcast, Episode 118

With new warnings that the U.S. could run out of money to meet its obligations, Congress and the Trump administration are racing to raise the debt limit before lawmakers head home for August, says CQ Roll Call’s appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt. And tax reporter Doug Sword explains how oil refiners could get up to a $10 billion windfall with an expired tax credit unless Congress intervenes.

9/11 aid bill passes House after emotional lobbying campaign
It was passed by the lopsided margin of 402-12

The House voted Friday to extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

By the lopsided margin of 402-12, the House passed legislation that would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first-responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims.

Financial Services bill loaded with hot-button issues may signal trouble ahead
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 116

House Democrats passed the Financial Services spending bill that includes some controversial provisions, says CQ Roll Call’s banking reporter Jim Saksa. Those include blocking money for a border wall, increasing funding to enforce sanctions on Iran and allowing the District of Columbia to fund abortions.

Senate won’t take up House Democrats’ changes to border bill
The amendment calls for about 10 significant changes to the Senate bill, including adjustments in funding from the Senate bill

Billions of dollars for resource-constrained border agencies that are rapidly running out of cash due to an unprecedented surge of migrants is in jeopardy as the congressional clock counts down to the July Fourth recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned Thursday his chamber wouldn’t consider revisions demanded by House Democrats to the Senate-passed border supplemental, including cuts to Pentagon and Immigration and Customs Enforcement accounts.

Nine spending bills down, three to go in House
Not a single House Republican has voted for any of the spending bills, and the White House opposes them too

The House passed its second batch of fiscal 2020 spending measures Tuesday, in a $322 billion package that would block Trump administration policies on offshore drilling, a health care court challenge, the 2020 census and more.

On a mostly party-line vote of 227-194, the House passed the Democrat-written measure that combines five of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Those are the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, which is the underlying vehicle, along with the Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and the Interior-Environment bills.

House Democrats offer changes to woo liberals on border funds
Bipartisan Senate measure moving in that chamber, adding to flux

Updated 12:55 p.m. | House Democratic leaders sought to tamp down a rebellion among their party’s left flank Tuesday as they prepared for a floor vote on $4.5 billion in emergency funding for the surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border.

Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey offered a new manager’s amendment aimed at easing the concerns of Progressive Caucus and Hispanic Caucus members over the care of children who are in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. Her amendment would tack on requirements for CBP to develop standards for medical care, nutrition, hygiene and personnel training, as well as a plan to ensure access to translation services for individuals “encountered” by U.S. immigration agencies.

The Democrats’ tax package explained
CQ Budget podcast, Episode 115

Democrats are pushing new changes to the tax code aimed at helping low income individuals and families, with some lawmakers calling for an increase to the corporate tax rate. In this episode of the CQ Budget podcast, CQ Roll Call's Doug Sword explains who stands to gain and lose. ...
Employers would get subsidies for hiring longtime unemployed workers in draft bill
The draft bill aims to assist an estimated 1.3 million people who have been out of work for at least six months

A pair of Democratic senators introduced legislation Thursday that would offer subsidies to employers who hire longtime unemployed workers.

The draft bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and backed by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, aims to assist an estimated 1.3 million people who have been out of work for at least six months. The government would offer one-year subsidies to cover two-thirds of the cost of a new hire’s wages and benefits, although the subsidy could be increased in times of high unemployment.

Congressional leaders, White House give spending caps talks another try
Fall government shutdown looms if both sides can’t agree on a deal

White House officials plan to meet with congressional leaders Wednesday — for the second time in as many months — to reach a deal on spending limits that would prevent another government shutdown this fall.

The first meeting, on May 21, produced some initial hopes that a bipartisan deal could be reached relatively quickly, avoiding a breakdown in the appropriations process when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The politics behind spending limit negotiations
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 114

One-year spending cap option, warts and all, gains momentum
Yarmuth signals openness to deal, echoing comments made by Shelby a day earlier

Senior lawmakers are increasingly considering a scaled-back plan to raise discretionary spending limits for just the upcoming fiscal year, in what would be a departure from the two-year deals enacted in 2013, 2015 and again last year.

A decision to limit a deal to only fiscal 2020 appropriations might simplify negotiations that have been stalled for months. But it would also set the stage for another difficult showdown over spending levels next year, just before the presidential election.

After rebuke from Jon Stewart, panel approves 9/11 victim bill
Without funding, victims face cuts to promised compensation, as much as 70 percent

A day after comedian Jon Stewart chastised lawmakers for their sparse attendance at a hearing on legislation to help victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill without even calling a roll call vote, extending a victims fund for decades while offering whatever funding is needed.

Stewart and lawmakers representing the victims have expressed frustration with Congress’ pace in moving the legislation, even after the overseer of the victims fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced in February that she would have to cut payouts to victims for lack of money.

Border spending package seeks aid for migrants, but no money for Trump’s wall
The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill to address the migrant surge next week

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill next week to address the surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday.

The decision marked the first sign of movement on a stand-alone border funding bill, which President Donald Trump first requested on May 1. Republican leaders had tried to include the money in a $19.1 billion aid package for victims of natural disasters that cleared Congress last week, but Democrats objected, citing various concerns over family detention policies and information sharing about undocumented immigrants among federal agencies.

Contractors would receive shutdown pay in next spending package
Contractor back pay would provide the same benefit granted to direct federal employees

House Democrats would make whole federal contractors who didn't get paid during the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in January as part of a $383 billion fiscal 2020 spending bill set to hit the floor next week. 

The package combines five bills: Commerce-Justice-Science will be the vehicle, carrying the Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures as well.

Democrats’ Spending Bill Strategy
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 113

House Democrats are packaging spending bills with the aim of completing all 12 by the end of the month, a goal that is likely to generate a lot of policy debates and amendments, explains Jennifer Shutt in this episode of the CQ Budget podcast. The first package contains five bills including the two largest, Defense and Labor-HHS-Education.

Sen. Rand Paul’s austere budget plan goes down in Senate
Kentucky Republican said his plan would reverse a trajectory of ever-rising deficits in coming years

The Senate blocked consideration Monday of a bill by Sen. Rand Paul that would require trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the coming decade to bring about a balanced budget.

On a procedural vote of 22-69, the Senate refused to advance a budget plan that the Kentucky Republican said would reverse a trajectory of ever-rising deficits in coming years. “Today, the U.S. Senate can vote to put a stop to it and change course,” Paul said in a statement.